Fort Pierre cowboy’s ride for veterans nears nation’s capital

Capital Journal | By Stephen Lee | Oct 2, 2016 | Link to Article

Tony Jones, the Fort Pierre cowboy who left his hometown on horseback on June 5 to ride to Washington to raise support for military veterans is 75 miles from the nation’s capital, he told the Capital Journal on Sunday.

Jones said, via text messages on Sunday, that he is in Shenandoah Falls, West Virginia, “where I will lay up,” for several days. He plans to ride into Washington, D.C., on Oct. 18.

Shenandoah Falls is a hamlet in the far northeast finger of West Virginia, only a few miles from the Potomac River and the Maryland border and historic Harpers Ferry.

He plans to take short rides “around West Virginia and Maryland and meet as many people as I can,” he said.

Jones said he wanted to make the ride at a leisurely pace to meet people, especially military veterans, and talk about how more can be done to help them.

When he left Fort Pierre, his friend, Orville White Eyes, was riding with him. But White Eyes had to return home in the first couple weeks as they reached the Iowa border.

The two men visited veterans at a care residence in the Sioux Falls area and Jones has continued to find groups of veterans, including activities or residences, to talk to them about health care needs and other things.

Jones emphasizes the government reports that 22 military veterans commit suicide each day and he’s kept that as a tally of his trip.

On Friday he was in Moundsville, West Virginia where he “finally got three hot meals, shower and a good night’s sleep,” according to a post on the Facebook page, Cowboys Ride For Veterans Awareness. He ate dinner at the VFW in Moundsville with veterans of Desert Storm and of the Vietnam War and others.

Jones’s sister, Wendy Bushmire, from California, set up a Facebook page for Jones and maintains it, including posts and photos from people who meet him on the way and spend time..

Jones has garnered support along the way, with people at times riding with him for a short way and many putting him up for the night and feeding him..

He also has spent a few nights “under the stars,” he says, including this past week.

Jones has used several horses on the way, including a Palomino someone in Iowa provided for him and which he named “Semper Fi.”

The Marines’ motto meaning “Always Faithful,” also is the name of a well-vetted nonprofit – the Semper Fi Fund – which has taken on Jones’ ride as one of its charitable fundraisers.

Just in the past week or so, Jones obtained an Appaloosa horse he’s been riding.

The trip hasn’t been easy, Jones says, but it’s encouraged him that Americans care about military veterans and are with him that national leaders need to do more for veterans.

Jada and Jim Udager of Belle Fourche,, supporters of Jones’ Veterans Awareness ride, held a 10-mile ride in the Black Hills on Saturday to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, according to postings on Jones’ Facebook page.